Saskatchewan RCMP say roughly three-quarters of a collection of coveted Wayne Gretzky memorabilia has been found nearly a year after it was reported stolen.
The theft was first reported to RCMP in April 2022; it was believed the collection valued to be worth $100,000 had been taken from a rural yard where it was in storage between November 2021 and March 2022.
In an update on the investigation, RCMP said the memorabilia was found after a search warrant was executed on Saturday at a home in the 400 block of Second Avenue East in Shellbrook, Sask.
A snowmobile, trailer and a pick-up truck that had been reported stolen separately were also found, RCMP said.
Among the items originally reported stolen were 19 autographed Wayne Gretzky jerseys, autographed pictures, pucks and sticks, as well as about 10,000 hockey cards.
“We began investigating this theft nearly a year ago and given the prevalence of online ‘buy and sell’ sales, we didn’t know for sure if any of the stolen memorabilia items would be recovered,” Shellbrook-Ahtahkakoop RCMP Detachment S/Sgt. Shannon Haggarty said in a news release.
“This is an excellent example of how investigations take time to complete. It was continued, dedicated efforts on the part of RCMP investigators that resulted in charges laid and ultimately, items recovered from multiple different theft investigations,” Haggarty said.
At the time of the reported theft, the man who assembled the massive collection over the years took to social media to plead for its return.
“The majority of items were personally signed to me, for me, along with autographed pictures of my face and my family’s faces in them,” Aron Gratias wrote in the post.
“This collection was worth way more (than) just money to me, it was priceless and a true passion, it was never meant to be sold; it was meant to be passed down to generations and future generations.”
Derek Herzog, 41, from Shellbrook is charged been charged with possession of stolen property obtained by crime over $5,000.
He is expected to appear in court on April 4, in Shellbrook.